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Alberta releases COVID-19 modelling data

by Morinville News Staff

Alberta Health’s modelling projections show total cases of COVID-19 range from 800,000 to one million infections, from mild and undiagnosed to detected, confirmed and treated, under two provincial scenarios.

The Government of Alberta released the modelling data online Wednesday at https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/covid-19-case-modelling-projection.pdf

Premier Jason Kenney presented the data live on YouTube Wednesday afternoon.

Kenney cautioned that modelling is not concrete. Instead, Kenney said the modelling shows trends, and as new data comes forward, the modelling changes to reflect that data.

“Alberta is doing very well in terms of the slope compared to other jurisdictions,” Kenney said, adding Alberta was closer to South Korea and Taiwan than European countries and the United States in terms of curve spike.

Per capita, Alberta has 3.1 cases per 10,000, similar to Ontario and B.C. Hospitalizations are .2 per 10,000, a fifth of Quebec, half of Ontario, and a third of B.C. Concerning Intensive Care Unit placement; the numbers are similar.

Kenney said hospitalizations and ICU numbers are the numbers that he is most concerned with. Currently, 14 per cent of cases are hospitalized, and 5 per cent require ICU, but those percentages vary considerably by age group.

“The best way to measure the actual impact of coronavirus in a jurisdiction is how many folks end up in hospital because of it or in ICU,” Kenney said. “That also indicates the severity of the impact in a particular jurisdiction, and not all places are going to be affected equally.”

Under the elevated but unlikely scenario, the Premier said Alberta would need 1600 acute-care beds and about 400 ICU beds. Alberta currently has 100 acute-care hospitals across the province. The province has a total of 8438 adult, pediatric and mental health acute-care beds, and there are 324 ICU beds in the province. The province currently has 509 ventilators of which about 100 are in use, 15 of those COVId-19 patients. Kenney said AHS will have 761 ventilators by the end of April and are aggressively trying to procure more.

The Premier said Alberta Health Services plans to have 2250 COVId-19 acute-care beds available by the end of April to accommodate the province’s peak in mid-May. Much of the capacity has been built by rescheduling and postponing surgeries. AHS also plans to have 1100 ICU beds available by adding beds with spacing to existing ICUs and converting surgery rooms. The Premier said Alberta is well-positioned in N95 for the next couple of months.

Kenney attributes Alberta’s current lower hospitalizations to several factors: Alberta’s first case came later than Ontario, B.C. and Quebec, which results in lower hospitalizations here. He also attributes the province’s robust testing allowing Alberta to intervene medically sooner. Kenney said having the youngest population in Canada, and a spread-out population has also contributing to lower hospitalizations.

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The Government of Alberta is advising that existing public health orders could be in place until the end of May to protect the health and safety of Albertans.

Alberta’s probable COVID-19 scenario sees the province hitting the peak of infections in mid-May and that by the end of summer, there could be as many as 800,000 infections [from the start] with somewhere between 400 and 3,100 deaths. The second less likely but more significant scenario would see infections peak at the start of May with as many as 1 million infections and between 500 and 6,600 deaths.

Both scenarios estimate that after the virus reaches its peak, the number of cases will decline over the summer months. Albertans can also expect no relaxation of social distancing measures until the end of May.

However, without any provincial interventions to manage the pandemic response, AHS projections show that about 13,000 Albertans could have been hospitalized with 3,900 requiring intensive care.

The government says the modelling helps anticipate and prepare for the demands on Alberta’s health-care system. Alberta Health has been scaling up the capacity of the province’s health care system by expanding the capacity of hospitals, opening up more acute care beds, intensive care unit spaces, and ventilators.

Kenney clarified his comment from Monday’s address on using smartphone technology to track citizens. Kenney clarified that he may be willing to use tracking technology only for those who have quarantine orders under the Health Act to prevent a second wave of infections.

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